Is review of St Albans, Hemel and Watford hospitals being rushed through?

St Albans Hospital will be staying put for now

St Albans Hospital will be staying put for now - Credit: Archant

Concerns are mounting that a review of hospital provision in West Herts is being rushed through - and the main aim is to make a case for Watford General being rebuilt or developed as the main, and possibly only, location for all hospital care.

The Dacorum Hospital Action Group (DHAG) supported by the town’s MP Mike Penning have voiced their fears to Dr Nicholas Small, chair of the Herts Valleys Commissioning Group, that building a new hospital in a central location serving St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Watford is being sidelined,

And they are anxious for people in the St Albansd district to take on board the fact that they believe the West Herts Hospitals Trust is rooting for Watford General to remain as the main hospital in the area even though that would possibly mean the downgrading of St Albans City.

Consultation closes next Wednesday, September 21, on provision of hospital services in the document Your Care, Your Future, which has been compiled by local NHS organisations and the county council to look at the way in which hospital and other health services should be provided in the future.

It puts forward three options for the future of hospital services - a new hospital in a central location, centralising acute care at Watford or retaining emergency, maternity and other existing services at Watford with day surgery, complex diagnostics, cancer care and outpatients at St Albans City.

DHAG maintains that the review has been rushed through with most of the key meetings taking place during the August summer holiday period.

And it also claims that the main purpose has been to knock out the main contender for acute hospital services - a new acute hospital on a greenfield site in a central location - in favour of rebuilding at Watford.

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By making Watford General the main and probably only centre for all hospital care, DHAG warns that that would ‘include quite possibly downgrading st Albans and the whole process is geared towards that’.

The letter to Dr Small goes on: “What is quite clear is that very large numbers of the residents of West Hertfordshire do not want their main hospital to be situated in a heavily congested urban area next door to a Premier League football ground.

“No amount of pseudo-scientific number-crunching will change that. This is a golden opportunity to change direction. It is beyond belief that we might be stuck with the status quo for decades to come.”

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